In the field of Industry 4.0 and smart technologies, Pro-Technic Machinery was founded in 1977. The company established itself as a supplier of precision manufacturing equipment from Europe and Japan before expanding to provide professional manufacturing solutions and after-sales services. The company’s customers are spread across different industries from metal cutting and forming to optical scanning and in more recent times the company also provides customised automation and AGV implementation, digitalisation and IoT transformation, and other Industry 4.0 solutions.
“We’re unique in the sense that we’re not an automation company, we’re a total solution provider,” says Nicholas Lai. “We have been selling machines for decades, we have clients that have been with us for twenty years, I have clients whose parents have bought machines from my father all those years ago now wanting us to assist them in integrating automation solutions to their legacy machines; because they trust us to have an intimate understanding of how these machines work and how to make the retrofitted automations effective.”
A major shift came over a decade ago when the company founded its automation department, where it put into one place the ”vast experience across different industries” that it had amassed, setting itself up for a future as an Industry 4.0 services provider.
With its extensive China experience, Lai says the company knows to “strike a balance” between production efficiency, which is what automation can offer, and cost effectiveness, which involves weighting the opportunity cost of using manual labour instead.
“So it’s a delicate exercise of learning how the client is achieving this task we are trying to automate and how the rest of the market is doing the task,” he says.
“For each digitalisation solution, we have to look at how our client runs their business, their factory, their operation, and then we can customise.” Part of this is generating reports that are “unique to [that client], unique to their operation… if clients want to look into something further we can offer advice, such as adding sensors to collect critical data and turning these data into actionable information which they can use to make better decisions.”
“By making the entire production process transparent and informative, our clients can greatly improve their productivity and cost management beyond what their machines can offer.”
Smart manufacturing, he says, is more than just maximising the machine output. It’s about “keeping up to date with the real time material stock level, it’s about being able to quantify your staff’s contributions, it’s about being informed of the idle time semi-finished products are waiting to be machined and the time it takes for work pieces to be transported between shop floors, et cetera so when we talk about smart manufacturing, we’re talking about achieving a holistic management of every aspect of the manufacturing process.”
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